Frequently asked questions

Q.Does the Diploma of Journalism prepare students for employment?

A. Yes. This is the purpose of the course. Unlike many courses with "journalism" in the title, the Jschool Diploma of Journalism is focused entirely on preparing students for careers in journalism.

Q.What are the chances of getting a job?

A. Most of Jschool's graduates are now working as journalists, at metropolitan, regional and suburban levels as well as overseas. Some former students have chosen to do further study at university instead of applying for immediate work: they have used the Jschool diploma to gain entry to second-year university level. Specific journalism-related career or study outcomes are higher through Jschool than any other journalism course in Queensland. (Most students who begin a university-based journalism course never find work as a journalist.)

Q.Does the industry support the Diploma of Journalism?

A. In planning the Diploma, Jschool consulted editors of every daily newspaper in Queensland and of most dailies in NSW and Victoria, as well as editors and senior staff of other media and in other states. The curriculum for the Diploma is based upon the industry's recommendations, and industry leaders have indicated strong support for the course. National accreditation of the course under the Australian Qualifications Framework followed detailed examination of the Diploma of Journalism curriculum by an accreditation advisory committee of senior editors and other media professionals. Read some of the   editors' comments

Q.Do you need a strong academic background to get into the course?

A. Students come into the Diploma of Journalism from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from a university degree to completion of high school. We expect students to be bright and energetic, but do not prescribe a tertiary entrance score. Academic records are considered in the selection process, and applicants are given a test on their writing skills and general knowledge. We also interview applicants and ask them to supply examples of their writing. Many top Australian journalists weren't high achievers at school, so we look closely at the potential of our applicants, taking into account their life experience, achievements and motivation.

Q.Is the course officially recognised?

A. Jschool is nationally registered under the Australian Quality Training Framework (provider number: 31791). The Diploma of Journalism is recognised through the Australian Qualifications Framework (national code: 30793QLD). Recognition followed extensive review of the course by senior media professionals plus audit by the Department of Employment and Training. No other journalism course in Queensland at any level has been reviewed and approved by industry in this way. The course has also passed the Federal Government's auditing and approval processes and is included on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) (CRICOS provider code: 02602B). Jschool has also been successfully assessed as a VET FEE-HELP provider after an extensive review by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Q.How do students rate the Jschool course?

A. Very highly. Students enjoy the small classes, daily feedback and sense of achievement that comes from developing their skills quickly and thoroughly. Read some of the student comments. A survey of last year's Jschool graduates found that 100% indicated high or very high satisfaction with the course they had just completed. (The comparable national figure for university journalism courses shows a satisfaction level of only 69%.) Of Jschool graduates, 83% gave a high or very high rating to the quality of the teaching, compared with just 50% of university students graduating from communication/journalism courses. Jschool was also ranked top in providing students with generic skills — 81 percent compared with a national average of 66 percent: see  
Top journalism schools.

Q.Do Jschool staff help students find jobs?

A. Yes, we work actively with students both before and after graduation to help them find employment. No course can guarantee students jobs, but we make a commitment to give continuing help and guidance to students in their search for work.

Q.What experience and industry credibility do the staff have?

A. Jschool director John Henningham is described by Journalism Education Association life member and former president Roger Patching as Australia's best-known journalism educator. (This was in the recently published national text, Breen's Journalism: Theory and Practice.) After a career in metropolitan and national journalism, John Henningham became the first person in Australia to receive a PhD in Journalism, and the first Australian to be appointed to the position of Professor of Journalism. The university department and course he developed and headed had been regarded, during his time there, as the nation's best. John Henningham can lay claim to being personally acquainted with more newspaper editors and journalists than any other journalism teacher in Australia. He is frequently consulted for comment on media issues, and is a consultant to national and international publications on journalism. Hundreds of his former students are working in journalism throughout Australia and overseas. In Jschool Professor Henningham is backed up by a   strong team of senior professionals who contribute their expertise in specialist areas. Dozens of distinguished journalists contacted John Henningham to offer their assistance when the Jschool enterprise was established, and to express their support for a high quality, independent and focused approach to journalism education.

Q.Can I transfer credit from the Diploma of Journalism to a university degree?

A. The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) has signed an agreement with Jschool to accept Diploma of Journalism graduates with a year's credit towards USC degrees. Several graduates have articulated into USC under this arrangement. Other universities are likely to give similar credit on an individual basis. Most Jschool students aim to find full-time work as soon as they have graduated, but we encourage a continuing commitment to education — both general education and in-service professional education. It's also worth noting that there are opportunities for Jschool graduates to go straight into postgraduate study in some fields after they have gained employment and completed their journalism cadetships.

Q.Can the diploma give me a better tertiary entrance rank?

A. Completion of the diploma is recognised by universities as an entrance qualification. Thus, if you scored a lower tertiary entrance rank during your high school studies, you will be able to improve it by graduating with the Diploma of Journalism. Depending upon the university, completion of the diploma gives students a tertiary entrance rank of between 87 and 82 (OP 7 to 9 in the Queensland system). (For Queensland University of Technology the OP is 7 and TER 87.)

Q.My friend in a university journalism course said she wasn't allowed into the internship program because of quota restrictions as there were too many students. Do all your students have the opportunity to do an internship?

A. Yes. The Jschool view is that work experience is essential in preparation for a journalism career — hence internships are a compulsory part of the Jschool Diploma of Journalism. Not only does practical experience in a newsroom help your development as a journalism student — it often leads directly to a job.

Q.A lot of uni students complain about overcrowding in classes and insufficient feedback on their assignments. Lecturers don't even know their students' names. Can Jschool do things better?

A. Yes we can, and we do. Jschool believes that effective preparation for a journalism career requires small class sizes, a lot of hands-on assignments and quick turnaround of student work. Teaching staff at Jschool take a close interest in individual students' progress, and guide them towards understanding of course content and development of skills. (Universities once did it this way, but unfortunately many of them have become like sausage factories: they include journalism in the curriculum to attract large numbers of students, without any serious commitment to quality teaching or vocational outcomes.)

Q.How is the work assessed?

A. The emphasis of Jschool is on teaching and learning, not grading. Students are expected to achieve a high level of competence for each assignment, and are asked to resubmit work which doesn't meet the required standard the first time. We don't "punish" students with low grades, but instead put extra time into bringing individual students up to the required standard. This requires extra work by students and by staff, but the results are worth it.

Q.Do you teach shorthand?

A. In response to industry advice that recruits to newsrooms should have shorthand skills (which are not normally provided in tertiary courses), Jschool requires students to study Teeline shorthand as part of their course. Editors say this gives them a tremendous advantage when looking for a job. The Teeline module is taught by experienced shorthand teachers at no extra cost to Jschool students.

Q.Is there any financial advantage in doing the Jschool course?

A. The financial commitment is less than that of a three or four-year university degree. Having a two-year start on uni students in entering the workforce also means a huge financial saving.

Q.Are there loans or FEE-HELP to help with the cost of fees?

A. Australian students may use "fee-help", the Federal Government-funded student loans scheme. Alternatively, students may pay tuition fees by semester or in monthly instalments.

Q.I like to write, but I'm not sure if I want to be a journalist


A. Then this course probably isn't the best one for you. The diploma is designed for people who are are committed to a career in journalism, and the whole course is based on the assumption that you want to be a journalist.

Q.How practical is the course?

A. There is no more practical course around. Students get extensive practice in reporting and news writing, they do lots of field work and are given every opportunity to get their stories into print. At one major Queensland university offering journalism courses, students now do only two assignments for assessment per semester. By contrast, Jschool students do at least five assessable stories per week.

Q.What sort of industry visits and excursions do you do?

A. Jschool students spend much of their course visiting centres of news such as Parliament, City Hall, courts and media conferences, as well as visiting print and broadcast newsrooms. Our location in the heart of Brisbane makes these visits easy to arrange, as most sites are in walking distance. The Jschool course provides more visits and tours than any other journalism course in Australia. (By contrast, most tertiary journalism students never see the inside of Parliament House or their local council.)

Q.What do students learn apart from journalism?

A. The whole course is designed around journalism career outcomes. The core involves learning to be a reporter, but closely associated with this is instruction in the context of journalism — e.g. study of political and social institutions, law, ethics, arts and culture as they relate to journalism. Through carefully selected and stimulating learning materials and assignments, the course also aims to broaden students' understanding of literature, language, history, politics and culture, so that they are well-rounded in their general education and hence better journalists. Students are also introduced to photojournalism, subediting, broadcast journalism and online journalism.

Q.I hadn't heard of Jschool. Do you advertise?

A. Jschool advertises in selected specialist outlets, but most of our students come from either personal recommendation (from the industry or from previous students) or by finding us through their own research, especially via the internet. We're not into trying to talk students into being journalists or into doing our course. There are too many students (and teachers!) in university journalism courses who don't really belong there. We find that students who "have what it takes" will find us through their own investigative efforts. If they're any good they'll do their research, compare what's on offer, ask lots of questions, evaluate the claims of various schools (including job success rates, graduate satisfaction level and editors' opinions) and choose the right course. They're the students we'd like to have!

Q.What are the qualities of a journalist?

A. You should have an interest in people, a sense of what is newsworthy, a curious nature, an ability to write, persistence, a commitment to accuracy and a willingness to work hard. Jschool can help you develop your potential, but first you must be sure in your own mind that you want to be a journalist.

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